Tesla was founded on the 1st of July in 2003 by a group of engineers based in San Carlos, California.
They launched their first electric car 5 years later in 2008 – the Roadster.
Since then, they have gone on to design the world’s first-ever premium all-electric sedan, the Model S, along with many more mind-boggling electric cars that all use the same cutting-edge battery technology Tesla has become so famous for.
Unique visual design aside, you may ask yourself, mechanically, how exactly do Tesla cars work?
Tesla cars, also known as EVs have an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. They use a large traction battery pack to power the internal electric motor. Because Tesla cars run on electricity, they emit no exhaust fumes and do not contain the usual liquid fuel components, such as a fuel line, fuel pump, or fuel tank.
In this article, we aim to dissect a Tesla car and explain exactly how each component works in detail.
How Do Tesla Cars Work?
The first induction motor was invented by Nikola Tesla around 100 years ago. It has two main parts, the stator, and the rotor.
The rotor is simply a collection of conducting bars short-circuited by end rings. A 3 phase AC power output is given to the stator.
The three-phase AC in the coils produces a magnetic field. Tesla motors produce a four-pole magnetic field.
This rotating magnetic field induces a current on the rotor bars to make them turn. In an induction motor, the rotor usually lags behind the rotor speed (RMF speed)
An induction motor has neither brushes nor a permanent magnet, yet remains very powerful.
The fantastic thing about induction motors is that the rotation speed depends on the frequency of the AC power supply.
This means the speed at which the wheel turns can be altered by simply varying the frequency of the power supply.
This fact makes speed control on a Tesla easy and reliable. In fact, a Tesla motor can range from 0 to 18,000 RPM.
The battery pack is what supplies the induction motor with power.
However, it produces DC power, this means that before the supply can get to the motor, it has to be converted from DC to AC power.
This is where the inverter comes into play.
Not only does the invert convert DC to AC, but it also controls the AC power frequency, thus controlling the motor speed.
The inverter can even shift the amplitude of the AC motor which in turn controls the motor output power. Essentially, the inverter acts as the brain of the electric car.
This may come as a surprise to most, but the battery packs consist of vast collections of common lithium-ion battery cells, similar to those used in your every day life.
All these cells are interconnected in a combination of series and parallel to produce the required power to run the electric car.
Glycol coolant is passed through metallic inner tubes which intertwine their way through the small gaps between the cells. This is one principle that sets Tesla apart from other electric car manufacturers.
By using many small cells instead of few big cells, essential cooling is guaranteed. This reduces thermal hot spots which produce even temperature distribution among the many cells – leading to higher battery pack life.
All these cells are arranged in detachable modules, leading to about 16 of these modules which include around 7000 cells.
Do Tesla Cars Break Down Often?
It is quite a common concern for those somewhat unfamiliar with EV technology, just how reliable are Tesla cars?
It has been proven that the Tesla Model S can continue to function well after passing 400,000 miles (643,737 km) and do not break down often. This is because electric cars do not rely on as much mechanical movement in order to function. Less moving parts mean less chance for something to break.
When it comes to fuel-powered cars, one of the main causes of a breakdown is a faulty battery.
Now, what about a Tesla car that relies on thousands of battery cells in order to work?
Well, Tesla as a company has not been collecting data long enough to answer this question accurately for all of their vehicles (especially the newer Model 3 and Model Y).
However, we do have quite a few years of data for their slightly older models, like the Model S and Model X.
Below we have created two tables breaking down each model’s battery capabilities:
|Model S & X||Data|
|Average Degradation Rate Per 100,000 Miles||4%|
|Miles Before 20% Degradation||500,000|
|Years Before 20% Degradation||15+|
|Model 3 & Y||Data|
|Average Degradation Rate Per 100,000 Miles||4%|
|Miles Before 20% Degradation||400,000|
|Years Before 20% Degradation||10-15|
The above data is broad estimates. Obviously, the battery retention capacities will vary from driver to driver depending on individual driving habits, driving temperature, and fast charging frequency.
What Breaks The Most On Tesla Cars?
The most common things to break on a Tesla are:
- Suspension components
- Brake pads
This is likely because electric cars weigh more by design than an internal combustion engine vehicle.
Is A Tesla Car Expensive To Maintain?
Below we have collected and put together data from Tesloop who has kept a record of their Tesla Model S maintenance expenses over a period of 450,000 miles.
In the table, we will focus on the following:
- RSM – Regular scheduled maintenance
- GVR – General vehicle repairs
Below is a summary of the tables:
($0,07 per mile)
MSRP Fuel Costs, 2.5 miles/kw, @ $0.26/kw for 450,000 Miles: $46,800
Fully Loaded Costs $46,800 + $27,604 = $74,404
($0,19 per mile)
Tesla Model S Maintenance Cost Breakdown
Below you will find the complete breakdown of costs, organized into a table:
|Regular Scheduled Maintanence (RSM)||Mileage||Payment Type||Cost|
|Tire Replacement||51,000||Customer Pay||$194|
|Wheel Alignment||74,469||Customer Pay||$200|
|Tire Replacement||75,135||Customer Pay||$513|
|Tire Replacement||95,242||Customer Pay||$388|
|Tire Replacement||126,419||Customer Pay||$389|
|Rear Bumper Repairs||N/A||Customer Pay||$1,000|
|Tire Replacement||159,648||Customer Pay||$389|
|12v Battery Replacement||194,237||Customer Pay||$171|
|Replace - Front/Rear Brake Pads/Rotors||225,351||Customer Pay||$1,759|
|Tire Replacement||231,546||Customer Pay||$334|
|Wheel Alignment||231,570||Customer Pay||$0|
|Replaced Headlights||251,252||Customer Pay||$2,800|
|General Maintenance||274,610||Customer Pay||$2,176|
|Tire Replacement||278,735||Customer Pay||$666|
|Dash Panel Replacements||290,263||Goodwill||$0|
|Key Fob Features Turned On||325,271||Goodwill||$0|
|12V Power Outlet Replacement||325,271||Goodwill||$0|
|Tire Replacement||362,821||Customer Pay||$362|
|Rear Suspension Check||377,785||Goodwill||$0|
|Tire Replacement||N/A||Customer Pay||$100|
|Tire Replacement||386,025||Customer Pay||$781|
|Tire Replacement||430,400||Customer Pay||$560|
|General Vehicle Repairs (GVR)||Mileage||Payment Type||Cost|
|Steering Column Control Module||17,441||Warranty||$0|
|Front Drive Unit||36,404||Warranty||$0|
|Forward Facing Camera - Drive Cycle Calibration||36,404||Warranty||$0|
|Driver Door Handle Assembly Fix||36,404||Warranty||$0|
|High Voltage Battery Replacement||194,237||Warranty||$0|
|Cabin HVAC Fan general Diagnosis||215,668||Warranty||$0|
|Replace Rear Right Door Handle||230,690||Customer Pay||$962|
|Driver Door Handle Assembly Fix||235,907||Customer Pay||$962|
|New Key Fob||274,019||Customer Pay||$123|
|Front Left Door Handle||278,732||Customer Pay||$221|
|Replace Thermal Controller (Air Conditioning)||279,127||Goodwill||$0|
|Replace AC TXV Valve Evaporator||278,732||Customer Pay||$436|
|Air Conditioning||290,263||Customer Pay||$1,351|
|Windshield/Window Repair||N/A||Customer Pay||$139|
|Key Fob Replacement||306,072||Customer Pay||$141|
|Door Handles||310,230||Customer Pay||$749|
|RR Rocket Panel Re-Attached||310,230||Goodwill||$0|
|High Voltage Battery Replacement||324,044||Warranty||$0|
|Additonal Key Fob Replacement||325,271||Customer Pay||$124|
|Windshield/Window Repair||N/A||Customer Pay||$153|
|Replaced drivers seat base assembly||377,785||Customer Pay||$1,364|
|Removed bumper and secured parking sensors||377,785||Goodwill||$0|
|AC Actuator||396,877||Customer Pay||$318|
|Rear Stabilizer Bar||406,304||Customer Pay||$161|
|Fore link assy, RH||406,304||Customer Pay||$185|
|FR SUSP AFT link assy||406,304||Customer Pay||$240|
|MS RR lower control arm assy-rwk||406,304||Customer Pay||$319|
|FR UPR CTRL Arm, RH, Dual motor||406,304||Customer Pay||$260|
|FR link assy, LH||406,304||Customer Pay||$185|
|Rear toe link, x-axis||406,304||Customer Pay||$72|
|RR SUSP upper link assy, X-axis||406,304||Customer Pay||$210|
|Labor & Miscellaneous||406,304||Customer Pay||$3,500|
|ASY Liftgate Latch PWR REL||430,398||Customer Pay||$39|
|Actuator Cinching||430,398||Customer Pay||$64|
|Cable, Cinch Liftgate||430,398||Customer Pay||$64|
|Labor & Miscellaneous||430,398||Customer Pay||$280|
|Left Headlight & Damaged Undercarriage Replaced||446,997||Customer Pay||$2,202.08|
|MSRP Fuel Costs, 2.5 miles/kw, @ $0.26/kw for 450,000 Miles||$46,800.00|
|Disclaimer: This vehicle is grandfathered in with free supercharging for life.|
|Fully Loaded Costs||$74,404|
Where Can You Buy Tesla Cars?
Teslas are currently sold in the following countries:
|United Arab Emirates|
Electric cars, including that of Tesla, accounted for 2.4% of U.S. cars sold in 2020, up from 0.7% five years ago.
Research indicates that share to increase to 11% in 2025 and by 2030, slightly over a third of vehicles sold in the U.S. will be electric.
If you’d like to order a Tesla go ahead and do so at the official Tesla website.